September 9, 2010
The 2010 Jackson Hole One Fly Contest is underway! The actual competition fishing part didn’t start yet (the fishing is Saturday and Sunday), but the stream of events started tonight. We had the kick off cocktail party and all contestants learned where they will be fishing, who their guide is and who they will be competing against in the boat. On Saturday I will be fishing on the Snake River from the Wilson Bridge to South Park Bridge. My guide is Charles Kempe and my boat partner is Joe Debryan. Although I’m not too excited about that stretch of river, both the guide and boat mate are friends so it should be lots of fun. On Sunday I’m fishing the Lower South Fork Canyon. I lucked out on my guide draw getting Mike Bean whom ironically Gary and I fished with today. My boat mates first name is Scott but I don’t know him and couldn’t not find him tonight. I’m sure he will be fun and we will have a great time.
Before the party, Gary Eckman and I fished together to get in one final practice day and to celebrate Gary’s birthday. You would never know it but Gary turned 70. Just like last week, Gary booked Mike Bean to guide us on the South Fork and I had the good fortune to go along. Since about the beginning of August Gary Eckman and I have fished at least one day a week on either the Snake or the South Fork rivers to sharpen our skills and get tuned in to what flies and tactics are working best this season. Some days we floated and fished on our own but the last three times Gary hired us a guide which I can tell you is quite a treat for me.
Today’s weather signals that fall is right around the corner. We awoke to a cold drizzle. Gary picked me up at my house at 7 and when we went over Pine Creek Pass it was actually spitting snow on top. All I could think about was the fact that I didn’t bring my waders! Mike met us in Swan Valley Idaho and we were floating and fishing before 9. This was kind of a reconnaissance mission for him too. Guides also want to do well in the One Fly because they are awarded for having top scores from their boats.
I am torn on what fly to use in this contest. Remember, you are only allowed one fly each day. If you choose a lousy one you’re stuck with it. On that note, today I switched each hour to test a variety of bugs. I have come to the conclusion that as far as the South Fork goes I can fish a streamer, a size 18 PMD or even some type of Chernobyl ant and do well. The way the contest works is you really need to just catch six fish that you measure and get good points for. If they average over 15”s then you will get enough bonus points to do well. I felt that today I could do that with any of these flies. Gary and I absolutely destroyed the fish. Honestly, I’ll bet we caught twenty fish over 16”s EACH! And several were over 18”s. Our scores would have been through the roof!
Today’s weather had a lot to do with it. It stayed nasty, cold and rainy all day. Really it was the kind of day most guide trips get cancelled. That’s a big mistake around here. Rainy weather always means good fishing in the Yellowstone area. The hatches today were the best I can recall and the fish were border line suicidal to eat any fly. The weather for the contest is predicted to be warm and sunny. Fishing conditions will be much different. However, I think that the Good Times Team is ready to rock and perhaps we can repeat today when it counts this weekend!